Letter from the President: March 2018

March 2018

Dear MCAD Community,

The following is a short talk I gave to newly admitted students and their families during the Admitted Student Day event this past Saturday, March 3.

Why study art and design?

Art and design will always have intrinsic value. Much of what we know about human culture is through the objects and images that people have made—from the earliest cave drawings to the most recent works just posted in virtual reality. We make things to satisfy a need to be surrounded by the beautiful, meaningful, and provocative. But we also make to communicate and help find solutions to problems that cross multiple sectors of our lives.

I hope the desire to make meaning out of your life and have an impact on the world through being an artist or designer is what motivates all of you who are here today thinking about attending MCAD.

You are not alone in following this path.

Art and design is a growing sector that has a significant impact on our economy. More than twenty-five million people in the United States were employed in art and design related industries in 2013, and twenty-eight million are expected to be in 2020. That is three million more, so I imagine there is still plenty of room for all of you. By pursuing a degree at MCAD, you will be prepared for careers in a wide range of fields. And even more importantly, you are more likely to be working in careers that give a sense of purpose and value to your life.

So why study art and design at MCAD?

An MCAD education is distinguished by having small class sizes, great facilities, passionate and caring faculty and staff, and an alumni network that supports each other. Our recent addition of programs in entrepreneurial studies and product design help support the goals of being a cultural producer and understanding the business side of being an artist and designer. I also want to say, as someone who has lived in a number of cities across the country, Minneapolis / St. Paul is one of the most creative regions I have experienced across all the arts: visual, written, and performing. I could name many other reasons why this is a fantastic place to go to college, but will end by returning to something regarding the ideals and purpose behind an artistic career. 

Dan Rather, who had a monumental broadcasting career, recently wrote a book called What Unites Us that speaks about what it means to be an American. He has a chapter on art, and I want to share a quote from it.

“Art should not be about impressing others, whether you're an individual or a nation. Art is about engaging in a candid dialogue with yourself. We now understand that the great American story is not confined to history books or political speeches. It is sung and danced and dramatized and turned into verse. It is painted and sculpted, written, and filmed. 

“Artists may not swear an oath to serve in government or the military, but they swear an oath to freedom of expression that is no less worthy. Our art has been like our country: boisterous and contagious and gloriously distinct. It has expressed euphoria, shame, and outrage. It has been exalted and it has felt the sting of suppression and marginalization. It has been misunderstood. 

“Perhaps most important, our art has been wonderfully diverse. Our corporate boardrooms do not fully represent America. Neither does our Congress, Supreme Court, nor those we have elected to the Presidency. But our artistic community represents the United States in all its multiple wonders.”

We invite you to find the wonders of your own artistic voice through your educational journey at MCAD.

Enjoy your first day at MCAD and come visit me in my office this fall!


 Coogan's Signature

Jay Coogan


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